In the 25 years or so since I've been working on voice recognition projects, the technology has evolved a great deal. Today, all the major tech companies, from Apple to Google and beyond, are combining voice recognition with artificial intelligence software to create new platforms and interfaces for their users (think of Siri, Alexa or Cortana.) This kind of voice-activated innovation will continue to be important. But I believe a different technology will be even more significant: Augmented reality, or AR. Simply put, AR technology integrates virtual images and information with a user's real-world surroundings.
Magic Leap today revealed a mixed reality headset that it believes reinvents the way people will interact with computers and reality. Unlike the opaque diver's masks of virtual reality – which replace the real world with a virtual one – Magic Leap's device, called Lightwear, resembles goggles, which you can see through as if you're wearing a special pair of glasses. The goggles are tethered to a powerful pocket-sized computer, called the Lightpack, and can inject life-like moving and reactive people, robots, spaceships – anything – into a person's view of the real world.
Technology advances not so much when it exhibits innovation, but when it becomes truly practical for everyday people. In 2016, we'll see an acceleration of that shift of technologies from the drawing board and geek-only curiosities to consumer devices that change our lives in ways small and big. Here are a handful of technologies that are on the cusp of major action in the coming year. For decades, artificial intelligence was a thing best understood by sci-fi fanatics and screenwriters. That started to change n 2011 with Apple's Siri voice assistant, but 2015 turned out to be a watershed year for computer algorithms that could ape human thought and interaction.
If you like our content, please sign up for our newsletter here. Thank you for supporting Last Week in the Future in 2016. This week's special New Years Edition will feature IoT & ML/AI highlights from 2016 and list trends to watch in 2017. In 2016, we saw the rise of voice UIs with the success of the Amazon Echo and the Google Home. We also experienced the AR/VR boom with Oculus Rift, HTC, PTC, and Microsoft all pushing more updates on their AR/VR headsets plus the explosive popularity of Pokemon Go.